But on the Monday morning I started something that would change everything I thought I knew about food and diet.
Through a chance conversation with my daughter's karate instructors I took up a challenge they had developed called '90 Day Get Real Fat Loss'. The idea being that try something for 90 days, make a difference to how you look and what you weigh and then keep that change going for life.
Well four years on I am living proof that you can make a change to decades of being told to eat a certain way, that the weight and inches can be lost, that the loss can be maintained and that this new way of eating is easily sustainable.
For years, like I think most people, I'd not been happy with those numbers on the scale or what I saw looking back at me in the mirror. Now I know I wasn't obese, and I probably wasn't even classified as being overweight. Friends would tell me I looked fine, that I had nothing to worry about. But for me it obviously was something I worried about.
My mum was diabetic and so I kind of knew that she had to avoid sweet stuff but that didn't stop us having sweet stuff in the house. Before Simon and I got married and had a place of our own we would pretty much eat whatever we wanted. I knew that too many cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars weren't good for you but I was active...we would be out three nights a week at clubs dancing for hours and then we started going to the gym three, maybe even, four times a week so we were burning off that bad stuff - right?
About a year before we got married Simon's mum was diagnosed with high cholesterol and so Simon got tested in case it was hereditary and lo and behold he too had high levels. In the late 1980's this was all new to us; what did it all mean? The advice given by the doctor was to cut back on our fat and dairy intake as otherwise we were heading for heart problems and an increased risk of dying from a heart attack! With warnings like that we did as we were told. Out went the butter, the full fat milk, no more eggs and forget about cheese and fatty meats literally overnight!
So for the next 25 years or so we followed, what we were all being told to follow, a low fat diet; after all this would work for those pesky high cholesterol levels as well as my mum's diabetes. We ate pasta, rice, stuck to chicken and fish, had cereals and toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. We had low fat or fat free salad dressings and yogurts...in fact anything that had low fat, or fat free, on the label we probably had it in the cupboard and fridge. After all picking up a chocolate bar or dessert or biscuit with low fat blazoned across the packaging meant we could indulge with a clear conscience.
Oh how wrong we were!
So four years ago I decided to try something different. One thing I'd never done was to follow any mass marketed slimming regime...the skeptic in me always thought these were a bit of a scam and besides I really didn't fancy parting with hard earned cash to stand on a scale in a room full of people and be told whether I'd put on or lost a pound! But this 'Get Real Fat Loss' was different; it was developed by a karate instructor (Jason) who had an understanding of nutrition and was fed up of hearing the mums of the kids he was teaching moaning about weight loss and hearing the horror stories of their weight loss regimes. I saw photos of women I knew and the difference that this programme had made to their bodies. These weren't touched up, magazine, promotional photos these were genuine photos viewed on someone's phone. I think it was seeing these real life results that made me think 'what have I got to lose?'.
The great thing was that under the guidance of Jason I had to figure out what would work best for me. After recording my food for a week Jason was able to analyse what I was eating and then come up with the best ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrate that I should be consuming. Now I have spoke about this before on previous posts but suffice to say the big change I had to make was to reduce my carb intake and up my fat! I estimate that my daily carb intake back then was around the 230g mark and this had to reduce down to about 70g per day; that was a big change!
But I was all set to give this a go; I looked at what I had been eating to see where the changes had to be made - bread, pasta, rice, potatoes....OK so my first reaction was what can I have instead of these? Initially I would have a very small new potato with my salad and meat of choice or perhaps I would have literally 3 or 4 chips (fries) with my meal. When it came to rice I discovered very early on that cauliflower rice was a good substitute. But you know what? After a short while I realised that I didn't actually miss these foods and the more I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that these were actually quite bland and were just 'fillers' on my plate.
About 60 days in I reached my 'goal' weight and by the end of the 90 days I'd lost another 7 pounds. It was the first time in my life that attempting any kind of 'diet' had produced the dramatic results that you dream of. But more importantly I was enjoying my food, enjoying the results I'd achieved and knew that I couldn't go back to my old ways.
But what about exercise I hear you say - well yes when I first started the challenge I would complete a series of body weight exercises at home, twice a day. So simple stuff like squats, lunges, press-ups and a few planks. But these did not get rid of the pounds these simply helped shape and tone what I'd got! For about the past year and a bit I've swapped daily exercise at home for visiting the gym a few times a week. This has proved to be great fun as we get to go as a family and lift heavy weights! I know that since going to the gym I have put on a few pounds but I also know that my muscle mass has increased while my measurements have remained pretty constant.
It was only after I'd reached the end of the 90 day challenge that I came across a book by Gary Taubes called 'Why we get fat and what to do about it'. I remember reading it and everything just fell into place; this book echoed everything that I had done. It gave me the science behind what I had done...I was living proof of what adopting a low carb, high fat lifestyle was all about.
So here we are four years on and we are still a low carb family (Oh yes all for one and one for all in this house!). I wouldn't change the way I eat now for anything. We eat well, we eat till we are full and we enjoy what we eat. I have a fridge full of butter, cream cheese, eggs (lots of eggs), double cream, full fat milk, greek yogurt and cheese. We eat red meat as well as chicken and fish. We have bacon for breakfast every morning! I have red wine most evenings and always a little dark chocolate - 85% is my favourite at the moment. What's not to love about all of that?!
So for some facts and figures;
At the start of my 90 day challenge I weighed 147lbs and by the end I weighed 126lbs, a loss of 21 pounds. I did lose more weight after the 90 days dropping a total of 28 pounds. Since then I think my body has found a more natural weight around 128 - 130lbs which I am quite happy with and have maintained this now for almost 2 years.
I have lost, and maintained, 2.5 inches from my waist, 3 inches from my hips and 2.75 inches from my bust.
Here come the photos - eek! These were all taken on a mobile phone and have not been altered in anyway!
So that's me...now and then...as I've said before if I can do it, anyone can. Low carb all the way!